Bangladesh And JICA -Efforts of 50 Years and Future Prospects -(1)


Ichiguchi Tomohide Chief Representative JICA Bangladesh Office

Bangladesh is a South Asian country formed by rivers flowing from the Himalayas. It is bordered by India to the north, east, and west, Myanmar to the southeast, and faces the Bay of Bengal to the south. Although Bangladesh's land area is approximately 40% of Japan's area, about 170 million people are living, resulting in a very high population density.

Bangladesh gained independence from British India in 1947 as part of Pakistan, and further gained its independence from Pakistan in 1971, forming the country in its present state. Two years later, in 1973, the dispatch of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) started as the beginning of Official Development Assistance (ODA) implemented by JICA under the government of Japan. 2023 marks the 50th anniversary since JICA initiated ODA to Bangladesh.

Therefore, the Embassy of Bangladesh in Tokyo organized the ceremony on September 11th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the dispatch of JOCV and marked the resumption of JOCV dispatch, which had been halted since the Dhaka restaurant terrorist attack in 2016. Ms. Yoshikawa, then Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Ms. Miyazaki, Senior Vice President of JICA, attended the ceremony.

In Dhaka, the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of cooperation took place on November 6th with the presence of the Finance Minister of Bangladesh and a number of high ranking government officials.

I will reflect on the 50 years of cooperation between Bangladesh and JICA, and look ahead to future cooperation.

The 50th anniversary ceremony held in Dhaka(JICA)

Hopes and Expectation We Had 50 Years Ago

"Bangladesh lacks almost everything: rice, meat, clothing, and gasoline. It must be said that Bangladesh faces more challenges than any other countries.
The country strongly desires support from Japan. Such desire has not been only expressed in the words of people, but has also been physically transmitted to us during the stay in Bangladesh."

This is a part of the report prepared by the survey team members who were dispatched to Bangladesh for one month in 1973 before JICA initiated cooperation with Bangladesh. (Source: JICA News May 1973).

As a conclusion of the report, it is expressed as 'Hopes and expectations to our friends who work together’, “we are conveying our wish to contribute even a little towards breaking free from imminent hunger through our cooperation with Bangladesh and earnestly hope that the newly formed Bangladesh will succeed in nation-building.” This short remark reflects the strong determination of the survey team, who witnessed local conditions and engaged in intensive dialogues with the government of Bangladesh.

Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer teaching children(Tanimoto Mika /JICA)

Efforts of 50 Years

During the past 50 years, JICA has provided cooperation (ODA) to Bangladesh in various fields and regions through technical cooperation, loans (long-term and low-interest financing), grants, volunteer (JOCV), collaborations with private-sector activities, and other schemes.

In the case of ODA loans, our focus has centered on large-scale infrastructure development in the power and transportation sectors. While emphasizing these areas, we have also extended our support to a broad range of sectors such as disaster prevention, rural development, and health. The cumulative commitment has exceeded 3 trillion Japanese yen (equivalent to 20 billion US dollars). In recent years, Bangladesh has become one of the largest beneficiaries of ODA loans globally.

In technical cooperation, we have dispatched approximately 5,100 experts across various fields and conducted training for over 14,000 Bangladeshi people, contributing to capacity development and institutional development of the government of Bangladesh. The number of JOCV has reached a total of 1,284, making significant contributions in areas such as sports, education, health, agriculture, and community development.

Recently, we have been emphasizing collaboration with private sector activities. In addition to Japanese companies’ involvement in infrastructure building under ODA loans, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of initiatives targeting private companies, such as "Private Sector Investment and Finance" and "SDGs Business Supporting Survey."

This is the end of Part 1. In Part 2, I will share insights on the future development prospects in Bangladesh.

To be continued to Part 2.

People learning about maternal and child health(JICA)

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